Sending a stern bipartisan message, lawmakers from the state of Florida blasted the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday for refusing to publicly identify which counties had their voter databases penetrated by Russian hackers in 2016, as well as other counties which may have had suspicious activity around the same time.
"It is untenable to hold this information classified and to not let the public know," said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), after a closed door briefing by FBI officials on Capitol Hill,
"We have very clearly and very forcefully asked the FBI to declassify that information," said Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), as lawmakers said there was no reason not to let voters in Florida know where the election year cyber intrusions took place.
"I don't know who the hell they think they are to not share that information with us," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Florida lawmakers express concern that the FBI is withholding information from voters about the hacking of two Florida counties during the 2016 election https://t.co/oXe2AirKiK pic.twitter.com/jgscTKp6o4— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 16, 2019
The FBI briefed Florida members of Congress today on the Russian hacking of 2 counties' voter registration systems in 2016. The names of the counties remains classified, despite objections from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.— Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) May 16, 2019
The penetration of voter databases in two counties in Florida occurred after phishing emails were sent to election workers across the state.
"They sent these to all 67 counties," said Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL). "Unfortunately, two counties had employees that did click on those emails, and they gained limited access."
The outrage was bipartisan, as Florida lawmakers said there's no reason the identity of the counties should be a state secret, three years after the attempted hacking took place.
"They not only deserve to know what happened," Waltz said of voters in his state, "but they deserve to know what we're doing to protect the elections going forward."
Florida deserves answers! We were just briefed by FBI who confirmed Russia infiltrated 2 Florida counties through phishing emails during 2016 elections. The FBI maintains there is no evidence votes or voter information was altered, but we continue to review the matter. pic.twitter.com/QIgSGLTLGz— US Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) May 16, 2019
Both parties stressed there was no evidence that voter databases were tampered with before the 2016 elections after Russians gained access to the two unidentified counties - but they say that’s no reason for the feds to hide the locations of where it occurred.
“What we have told them is that it is untenable to hold this information classified, and not to let the public know,” said Murphy.